The Romance Garden!

Well, beloved patrons, summer has come with a vengeance.  We hope you are all keeping cool (in a nice, air-conditioned library, perhaps?), wearing sunscreen, and enjoying these overly warm days as best you can.

Charles Edward Perugini, Girl Reading, 1879

If you are casting around for a steamy read to pass these sweltering days, our genre experts have returned with their top picks of the month for you to consider.   Whether you chose one of these romances, another title, or a different genre entirely, we sincerely hope that these long summer days give you the opportunity to expand your literary horizons and grow a little as a reader.  We’re always here with advice and recommendations!

Bridget:
When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham
I really, really dislike romances that are based on some kind of ‘damsel in distress’ trope–which is why is came as such as surprise to me how much I enjoyed this novel, which is, incidentally the fifth in Trentham’s Cottombloom series.  Mostly, this is because it features a beautiful, wonderful, honorable, loyal dog as its most important character.  But there are some humans, too, who are pretty neat.

Willa Brown was on the way to somewhere else when she landed in Cottonbloom, and found work at the Abbot brothers’ garage.  There, she not only found a haven from the nightmare she was trying to escape, but a home, too.  The only person who disrupts her peace is Jackson Abbott.  She’s had a crush on him since the say they met, but she can’t afford to be held up by anyone, no matter how much she’d like to be.  Jackson’s most meaningful relationship has always been with his car—and he’s not afraid to admit it. Still, he can’t help but become emotionally entangled with his new star mechanic Willa, who is definitely hiding some dark secrets about her identity and her past. Jackson desperately wants Willa to trust him, and to seek protection in his arms. But even as the two slowly surrender to their shared attraction, the danger lurking in Willa’s past remains a stubborn obstacle. Can she open up enough to give them both a chance at having real and lasting love?

I loved that this novel acknowledged how much growing up Jackson had to do–and that he put the effort into doing just that for Willa.  Her story was indeed heart-wrenching, but wasn’t the kind of outlandish ‘on the run’ story I’ve grown wearily used to reading.  Instead, as we tease apart her back story, we realize how much growing up she has to do, as well.  This story is all about confronting fears and holding on the things that matter.  And that good dogs can make any book worth reading.  Seriously, if you like animals, read this book.  You don’t need to have read the other books in the Cottonbloom series, though I can say from experience they are surprisingly enjoyable!

Kelley:

The Trouble with True Love by Laura Lee Guhrke
A rake who isn’t really a rake and an an advice columnist who isn’t really an advice columnist come together in this wonderful new romance from Laura Lee Guhrke. When her sister leaves on an extended honeymoon, Clara Deverill is left to manage the family’s newspaper, including the writing of the paper’s popular “Dear Lady Truelove” column. The trouble is that as a shy person who knows nothing about romance and courting, Clara is completely unsuited to the job.

Enter Rex Galbraith, a viscount determined to avoid marriage permanently, but who has a thorough understanding of the behaviors of men and women in matters of love.

Clara and Rex begin their acquaintance at odds with each other, but then become partners in an agreement that casts Rex as Lady Truelove and Clara as his aloof love interest. Both are interested in each other from the start, but Rex wants nothing to do with the marriage-based future that is Clara’s dream, and Clara knows that a man with Rex’s reputation is bad news for any woman who wants a family. Through their effort to be friends the two manage to teach each other about confidence and love, developing a relationship of mutual support and respect that will have readers rooting for them both.

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